Marginal pond plant shelves

Marginal pond plant shelves

When you build your pond create the right depth marginal pond plant shelves into your construction.

  • Build the majority of planting shelf at 6 - 8" depth below finished water level.  A smaller area of 12″ shelf and a base of 2’6″ (or 15 - 20cm, 30cm and 75cm).
  • For a wildlife pond - create a beach or sloping area with cobbles and shallow loving plants coming off the 6" shelf.
  • For a plant or a wildlife pond 2/3rds of the pond should be shelved at various depths with 1/3rd of the area being at the deepest level. This gives the right proportions of space for plant and wildlife use.
  • A fish orientated pond would need more deep area of 3-4' (90-120cm) – 1/2 deep water and 1/2 shelved.

As a guide we recommend a minimum of 3 x 1 litre marginal aquatic baskets per metre length on a shelf, with more if the shelf is wider than 30cm(12″) or if a full look is required quickly.

Depth of marginal pond plant shelves is vital to marginal pond plants:

  • too deep and some plant variety will not thrive,
  • too shallow and some varieties will not receive the frost/ice protection over their crowns that they would receive from deeper water.

Suitable for shelf depth 0-13cm (0-5”) below water surface Plants that sit with their crowns at/near water level

  • On an exit slope or shallow shelf of up to 5″ deep.
  • Plant with roots in water but with little or no water over their crowns.
  • Will grow in wet mud in a muddy bog garden or on a stream edge with their crowns exposed above water level
  • Grow in a floating pond basket.

Suitable for shelf depth 14-22cm (approx 6-9”) below water surface Plants for a shallow 14 – 22cm(6-9″) depth shelf -

  • Your pond should contain a mix of both upright and rafting plants to create the habitats different wildlife will enjoy.
  • Listed in the shelf pond plant pages as accepting up to 10cm(4″) of water over the top of the basket.

Suitable for shelf depth 23-44cm (approx 10-17”) below water surface Plants for a deeper 23-44cm(10-17″) depth shelf -

  • A deeper shelf that will place the crown of the plant in deeper water throughout the winter where there is no risk of ice penetrating the pond.
  • These plants are also on the Shelf Pond plant pages.
  • Dwarf waterlilies also grow from this shelf as they do not thrive as deep as the more vigorous Pond waterlilies.

Suitable for shelf depth 45cm+ (approx 18”+) below water surface level Plants for deeper water 45cm(18″) plus -

  • free floating oxygenating plants - 2 portions of oxygenating plants should be added to a new pond per square metre of surface area
  • surface cover plants like Pond waterlily and Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos) - cover 50% of your water surface area with plant growth to keep the water cool and shaded.

For more details read our Tips and Advice pages: How to dig an informal pond and Planting the pond shelves.

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